Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Prophecy of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet

The book of Revelation overall is a prophecy of the end times of the Christian Church, where two main enemies arise who will be opposed to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: the trinity of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, followed by the whore of Babylon that sits on top of the beast. Most Christian churches will teach that this will be fulfilled by some future political system headed by an antichrist.  But in the prophetic revelations of the New Church, something more concerning is revealed: it will not be some "always future" political system, it is a prophecy of a falsified version of Christianity. And this is the AntiChrist: for "anti-Christ" can mean anything opposed to Christianity, but the other meaning is "substitute Christ." The latter is the more dangerous threat: for it is a spiritual danger that arises within the church, not outside of it.

What this post will show is that the prophecy of the book of Revelation is something that can be applied now: for with it, one can identify false doctrines that have crept into the very Christian Church itself.  While most Christian churches will always talk about some always future event, in the spiritual sense the book of Revelation speaks of the false religious systems that will creep into the majority of churches, and will deceive many.


It is blatantly obvious, that the dragon, beast and false prophet represent a falsified Christianity, in that they are presented in the book of Revelation as a triad or trinity of three beings:
And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (Rev. 16:13-14)
For frogs to come out of the mouth signifies a teaching that has a strong but false persuasive ability to convince others.  Frogs signify false persuasions, for their tongue can reach out and catch bugs in mid-air; things that fly in mid-air signify reasonings. The devastation of the ancient church that preceded Judaism was also signified by the plague of frogs before the Jewish exodus from Egypt (Ex. 8:2-13, see Heavenly Arcana, n. 7345-7357, 7379-7409). Egypt signifies the natural man opposed to the spiritual man, represented by Israel. The "kings of the whole world" are not political kings, but kings represent truths as kings uphold the laws of the land, the "whole world" are those of the church. The great battle here is a spiritual battle, for those under false religious persuasion will vehemently defend it.

Most Christian churches will state that this thus represents a "counterfeit trinity."  But this false religious system will be Christian in appearance, which we know from the description of the false prophet:
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. (Rev. 13:11)
To have two horns like a lamb is to have an appearance that it is Christian. To speak like a dragon, means that it teachings will be spiritually opposed to the truth and favor one's evils.

So I am going to state what should be obvious, which few will admit: the idea of a trinity of three persons is utterly foreign to both Judaism and the Christian church of the first three centuries. It simply did not exist until it was invented by a group of men in the fourth century A.D. in order to combat the Arian heresy. In the heavenly revelations of the New Church, the dragon, the beast and the false prophet are revealed to be the following:
"They in the present church are also treated of, who from doctrine believe in a trinity of Persons, and in the duality of the Person of Christ, and in justification by faith alone: these are meant by the dragon. The persecution of the New Church by these on account of its doctrine; and its protection by the Lord until from a few it spreads among many, are then treated of." (Apocalypse Revealed, ch. 12)
In other words, the dragon, the beast and the false prophet represent a false religious system that is common among Protestant and Reformed churches.  Why is this false theology opposed to the New Church? The New Church follows two simple principles:
  1. God is one person in Jesus Christ, He is the Divine God-Man. His human form is the Son. A theology of three persons is opposed to this.
  2. Salvation is through repentance by following the 10 commandments.  A theology that makes works of charity nothing is strongly opposed to this.
This is why certain Protestant theologians will declare the theology of the New Church as "dangerous" or "heretical."  For it is directly opposed to the theology that they assume to be the truth, when in fact their theology was invented by men.  The Nicene Creed was unknown until the fourth century A.D. (see Is the Nicene Creed Biblical? Does the Nicene Creed define True Christianity?)  Justification by faith alone was unknown until the 16th century A.D. This strong opposition is represented by the 11th chapter, where the beast arises from the abyss to kill the two witnesses. The two witnesses represent the theology of true monotheism (traditional Christianity is inherently tritheistic) as well as living by the 10 commandments (traditional Christianity follows vicarious atonement which contradicts a life of repentance) - see The Identity of the Two Witnesses of Revelation.


The Protestant or Reformed tradition has a tendency to this false theology of justification by faith alone, based on a belief in a "vicarious atonement" where sins are automatically transferred without reforming one's life (for a better explanation of Christianity, see A Rational Explanation for Atonement: Christus Victor, the Divine Human). This belief system is founded on a false understanding of the writings of Paul, in which the works of the Mosaic law - the Jewish rituals - are confused with good works in general. The false theology makes the will of man passive, where God does everything, and we do nothing.

Some interpreters will interpret the beast, or the false prophet, as the Roman Catholic Church.  But that is incorrect.  The Roman Catholic Church is represented by the whore of Babylon in Revelation 17-18.  There are many false religious beliefs that the Catholic Church simply invented over time, but their primary interest above all others is the false belief in Papal primacy, or in the spiritual authority of their priesthood. In such a way they have transferred Divine authority to themselves. In the spiritual sense harlotry is the profanation of what is holy, and the worse profanation occurs when Divine worship is transferred away from God towards the worship of men. This does not apply to all Catholics:
And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Rev. 17:6)
To be drunk with blood is to profane the truth, to be drunk is to not have a correct understanding. There are thus many good people within the Catholic Church:
Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev. 18:4-5)
Thus most within the Catholic Church are simply ignorant of the truth, and do not recognize the falsehoods that have been mixed in with the original Christianity. But there are many who would rather have spiritual authority over others, and will put the authority of the Catholic church above that of scripture - for that, see the comments section in Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?  That kind of false religious reasoning is represented in the spiritual world as drinking blood from a cup.

This is why the "whore of Babylon" sits on top of the beast of 10 horns in Rev. 17-18 - for internally, the Protestant theology was completely inherited from the Roman Catholic Church. But in the prophecy of the book of Revelation, it the Protestant Reformation is foretold, for by Divine Providence the Reformation was initiated to break the political power of the Roman Catholic Church:
And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the whore. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. (Rev. 17:16-17)
This was fulfilled during the religious wars of Europe, which lasted over 100 years, in which the power of the Roman Catholic Church was broken.  The beast is said to have "10 horns" as the Protestant churches gained power from the literal sense of the Word, which was used to oppose the falsehoods of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus the word "Protestant", which persists to this day, based on "protest" against the authority of the Catholic Church. On the positive side, the Protestant churches tend to be greater light as they recognize the Word as having primary spiritual authority.

There are other interpretations of Daniel and Revelation that support this conclusion - a conclusion most religious authorities want to avoid or cannot see.  For most acknowledge that the beast of 10 horns is what arises out of the ashes of the Roman Empire. See The Spiritual Meaning of Daniel's Prophecy of the Statue of Nebuchadnezzar.

So, not exactly what everyone wants to hear: the revelation of the New Church is opposed against the majority theology of the Protestant-Catholic alliance.  The Old Testament does not give a favorable opinion for the Jews either: God does not mince His words.  But the truth must be revealed, and to reveal the truth, falsehoods must be exposed. This opposition between the two theologies is what is known in Revelation as the "battle of Armageddon," which is a spiritual battle against the revelation of the Second Coming of Christ.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Spiritual Insights into Psalm 1 by Swedenborg: True Spiritual Happiness

I recently authored the book The Symbolism of the Psalms, a massive work which combines a new translation with commentary from Swedenborg, which I previously blogged about here: The Symbolism of the Psalms: A Comprehensive Spiritual Commentary (updated with this new release). This originally began as a project to correct the translation of the Psalms, which one can read about in a blog post here from 2014: A Clairvoyant Dream of a New Translation of the Psalms. The translation follows the Masoretic Hebrew original.

The reason for the translation is that it quite apparent from Swedenborg's interpretation of scripture that every word of scripture is important. A slight mistranslation of the original Hebrew can significantly alter the meaning.  A spiritual interpretation demands more exactness, and translators unaware of the spiritual meaning have been very inconsistent in their translations. The translation then evolved into collecting quotes from Swedenborg on different passages of the Psalms as an aid for study.  And so, a full fledged commentary on the Psalms was born. It is now available from Apocryphile Press.  The work also restores the original poetic structure of each Psalm exposing the reader to the Hebrew parallelism where parallel lines are clearly shown.

I will discuss here in detail some points brought up by Swedenborg on the very first word of the first line of Psalm 1. It is based on the commentary of this work so readers can see how it can be useful in opening the spiritual sense of the Psalms and all of scripture.


The first Psalm starts with this line:

Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked

The word for "happy" is also the same Hebrew word as for the tribe of Asher, and is distinct from another word that is translated as "blessed."  Swedenborg, who had visions of the heavenly world, states that this happiness exceeds all understanding, and is based on the internal good within us that we receive and act upon. We will only discover it when we shed off the anxieties and cares of the physical world:
"As regards the happiness of eternal life, the man who is in affection for good and truth cannot perceive it when he is living in the world, but a certain enjoyment instead. The reason is, that in the body he is in worldly cares and in anxieties thence which prevent the happiness of eternal life, which is inwardly in him, from being manifested in any other way at that time." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3938.7)
This is where the commentary from Swedenborg has the advantage over other Biblical commentaries: none of them had the direct spiritual experiences he did. This experience of true spiritual happiness goes beyond the normal enjoyments of everyday life, many witnesses who have had a Near Death Experience have experienced this, and it has been life changing for them where they have a new perspective on life.

So what do we carry with us to the afterlife? It is the good we do to others, for the sake of making them happy. The happiness of being useful is what leads to eternal happiness, and it grows to eternity. We will exist in harmony with others, who we will all know as if they were our long lost childhood friends. Sometimes we make a connection with another, many times not, and circumstances may separate us from our true friends and loves. That love we have in our heart is what will grow to eternity.

The Divine love flows in from the spiritual world into our physical forms; Divine love finds rest in us when we do good to others.  True spiritual happiness makes a descent into several lower levels, or degrees, which Swedenborg describes in the work Apocalypse Revealed when discussing the tribe of Asher (which means "happiness" in Hebrew):
"[Asher] signifies mutual love, which is the love of doing good use to the community or society, with those who will be of the Lord's New Heaven and New Church. By Asher in the highest sense eternity is signified, in the spiritual sense eternal blessedness, and in the natural sense affection for good and truth; but by Asher here is signified the love of doing uses, which is with those who are in the Lord's celestial kingdom, and is there called mutual love. This love descends proximately from love to the Lord, since the Lord's love is to do uses to the community and to each society in the community; and He does them through men who are in love to Him." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 353)
The different degrees of happiness are as follows:

  1. Eternity (the highest celestial level), or the Eternal Good
  2. Eternal happiness (the intermediate spiritual level)
  3. Affection for good and truth (which we experience in the physical)

Achieving spiritual happiness can be achieved by simply focusing on it, and withdrawing from things of the sense, which Swedenborg discusses at length (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6201). Most do not even think of it, as people's minds think of external things of the body and the world. They thus discount anything spiritual as they cannot see it. It is also necessary to have combats against evil in order to attain eternal life (Heavenly Arcana, n. 59)

One's eternal happiness is not just entering the afterlife, it is based on one's affections for good and truth in this life. This is why it is said that every man will be judged according to their works (Matt. 16:27). We should not see judgment in a negative way; but rather this life is a chance to open up these higher spiritual levels, the more good we do, the greater the happiness. This is what Jesus meant by laying one's treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20-21). But to build up one's treasure, one should seek to lead an active and useful life, with intent on serving the Lord. For all actions are governed by intent, and the highest intent is to serve the highest Good, which is God Himself.